Pe Ell was officially incorporated on March 9, 1906.

There have long been several versions of how Pe Ell was named, none of which can be authenticated.

The more accepted version is that the name comes from the attempts of the local Indians to pronounce the first name of an early French-Canadian settler, Pierre Charles, who was an ex-Hudson's Bay employee. This version has it that the Indians could not pronounce Pierre, and their attempts turned it into Pe Ell.

Another version is that P and L were the first initials for Pierre Charles and his Indian wife. Two words were made from the initials: "Pe Ell".

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